Hello sweet friends, it’s that time of the month again! To recap the ups and downs, the lessons and the growth of the last 30-ish days.
And just like last month, I almost forgot to write this post! But this time, it might be because our next trip to Maui is fast approaching and all I can think about is wiggling my toes in the warm sand.
But anyway, you’ll get more Maui than you can handle in a few weeks. For now, it’s all about what happened here in chilly Washington (but hey, at least the snow has melted).
Without further ado…
In February 2018…
I refocused my blogging efforts on what really matters
Sometimes the universe gives us really clear signals, and other times it takes being beaten over the head with something
a few times repeatedly before we’ll really get the point.
That point, for me, was that I shouldn’t spend so much time and mental energy working on and thinking about things that won’t help me achieve my goals.
To be more specific, the big thing that was eating up far too much of my awareness until recently was none other than (…dramatic pause…):
You see, for far too long, I had been so concerned with growing my following and engagement on Instagram that I never even stopped to consider WHY I was doing it in the first place.
I was LITERALLY CONSTANTLY worrying about what I was going to post next…
Majorly stressing out if I missed that golden posting window where engagement was highest…
Wondering how in the hell I was going to continue producing interesting content since I hardly travel anymore…
Lamenting the fact that my photo editing has evolved a lot lately and my feed now looks like a garbled mess…
And tearing my hair out trying to understand why I was struggling when so many of my peers made their huge engagement and growth look effortless.
It was a classic case of believing that everything would change if I just hit that magic number of followers.
I was certain the sponsored trip offers would start pouring in, I’d have a never-ending supply of new clothes to wear because brands would be begging me to rep their latest looks, and I’d finally be able to stop stressing about how I was going to make this whole “influencer” thing work for me.
And then suddenly, or should I say finally, I had a moment of clarity and realized I didn’t actually fucking want any of that.
You may remember a post I wrote awhile back titled I Don’t Want to Travel the World for a Living. Yep, I wrote those words, and I really meant them, but it seems I’d forgotten this fact.
Or perhaps I had just become distracted by the shiny world of travel influencers–the constant comparison game I loathe so much but find myself at the mercy of more often than I care to admit.
I wanted my life to look more like the lives of the 20-somethings who are traveling to 30 new countries each year, yet barely skimming the surface because they’re only able to do what’s allowed on their jam-packed press trip itinerary.
I wanted to feel as comfortable flaunting my good looks and long legs (ha!) in front of the camera as those 20-somethings seemed to feel instead of enjoying the view from behind the lens so much more.
I wanted the perks, like the fancy hotel breakfasts and the pool views and the clothes and the watches and the high-tech suitcases.
This breakfast sponsored by no one.
I wanted all of this in spite of the fact that I very much CHOSE to settle down and travel less.
In spite of the fact that I’m 30 years old, dammit, and just the thought of traveling to a new country every month is exhausting enough.
In spite of the fact that I’ve ALREADY traveled to more than 30 countries INDEPENDENTLY and on my own dime.
In spite of the fact that I very much DO NOT care to travel according to someone else’s itinerary. I never have, actually, which is why there’s no laundry list of press trips to be found on my resume.
In spite of the fact that when I decided to turn this blog into a business, I did so with the goal of helping others, not the goal of feeding my own ego and making a living as a walking advertisement.
But I had forgotten all of that. And I watched, feeling completely helpless, as my followers declined day after day, no matter what new tricks I pulled out of my ass.
And I watched my posts get shitty engagement, even when I felt like my photography was improving so much.
And I watched my blog suffer too, because I was so distracted by some dream that wasn’t even mine, that I failed to give it the attention it deserved.
Until, one day, I woke the fuck up and realized that becoming an Instagram influencer with millions of followers and a packed travel itinerary wasn’t my story to tell.
The universe had been nudging me toward this conclusion for a long time, but I simply refused to listen.
Until now, that is.
In fact, it’s not just that I don’t want to travel the world for a living, or that I’m not comfortable showing off my butt for the sake of likes.
It also boils down to the fact that I don’t want to be one of those people who walks through life with their face buried in an iPhone.
One day, toward the end of February, I had become fed up with running on the Instagram hamster wheel and decided that it didn’t matter if I didn’t post that day (by that point I was pretty obsessed with the idea that I had to post something every single day, and wow, that was draining).
So I didn’t post anything that day.
Or the next.
Or the next.
And the next thing I know, a week has gone by and all I can think is MAN, THAT FELT GOOD.
Free from the self-imposed obligation to spend hours of my day on Instagram, I remembered what it felt like to live my own life. To give quality time to the people right in front of me. To move through my day not caring whether my phone was within arm’s reach.
THAT’S the kind of life I want to live, and my irrational obsession with Instagram was leading me away from that.
No blogger NEEDS Instagram to be successful. So many of my blogging idols prove this point day in and day out.
So this month, I resolved to stop giving a shit about a platform that only serves to make me feel bad about myself and doesn’t really reflect my success as a blogger.
A platform that isn’t helping me get closer to my goals, but actually distracting me from reaching them.
This isn’t to say that I plan to delete my Instagram profile in protest by any stretch of the imagination. The point is, for me, it’s not worth all the worry and stress it was causing me.
If I don’t post for a day or a week, that’s okay. If I come back to find I’ve lost more followers, who cares?
My Instagram following won’t make or break my business, and the brands who decide to work with me will do so because our values align, not because my sexy bikini bod is going to sell their tanning oil like hotcakes.
For the record, I have nothing against the ‘grammers who have found success by doing just that. More power to them!
My frustrations lie with myself and my own choices, not the methods through which beautiful women (and men) the world over are making a killing in Instagram sponsorships.
Writing is my gift in this lifetime, and I have a perfectly good platform for that right here.
So, in case you’re wondering where I’m focusing my energy now that I’m giving less of it to Instagram, here’s the shortlist of what’s most important to me this year:
- Email marketing and list building
- Growing my traffic with SEO
- Building and launching my first e-course
- Improving my video presenting skills
- Exploring photography as a side gig
I’ll still see you on Instagram, but it’ll be a little less regularly and a lot less forced from now on, and that can only be a good thing.
We turned some online friendships into real-life friendships
The second weekend of February, a few of my blogging buddies passed through Seattle, and I couldn’t pass up the rare opportunity to hang out with them in person.
You might remember learning about Nick and Maggie in their interview at the end of January (if not, you can read it in full here). They, much like myself, are dedicated to helping people achieve a life of location independence and are avid world travelers attempting to ease into a more settled life.
They had felt like kindred spirits to me just from the interactions we’d had on social media and then by email, and I couldn’t wait to see if my intuition was correct.
Turns out (read this next line in a Chandler voice), it couldn’t have been more correct!
Hans and I drove over the mountain passes on a particularly sunny Saturday and planned to meet them that night for dinner after they arrived from Vancouver, BC.
We spent a few hours exploring on our own, hitting Pike Place Market (which I hadn’t visited since my teenage years) just as the sun was beginning to set.
Then we scooped them up from outside their hostel around 6 pm, and the real adventure began.
We spent the next 24-ish hours getting to know each other over vegan food, drinks, arcade games and city explorations. Hans and Nick bonded immediately over their manly beards, while Maggie and I laughed over who was shorter (it was me, even in heels).
We shared some of our favorite Seattle spots and took in some sights that were new to all of us, including the Volunteer Park Conservatory and Bruce Lee’s grave.
We got turned away from bars in Capitol Hill (apparently, an Aussie driver’s license isn’t an acceptable form of ID), and learned that Hans has a knack for tour guiding as he narrated our driving routes and offered up obscure facts about the city.
Hans and I wound up staying in the city much later on Sunday afternoon than we’d originally planned because when it came time to say goodbye, it proved more difficult than we thought.
I suppose we hadn’t expected to form such a tight bond so quickly.
But this is a happy story, not a sad one, because now we have friends in Australia who would welcome us with open arms if (when) we come to visit, and they have friends here in Washington who would do the same.
And, of course, because we’re certain this meeting on a cold winter weekend in Seattle was not remotely our last.
My Most Popular Posts
How to Start a Side Hustle: Your Comprehensive, No-BS Guide – I’m absolutely stoked to see this post I worked so hard on being enjoyed by so many! In the short time it’s been live, this guide has already racked up over 1,000 shares! I held nothing back in this one, so if you want to start a side hustle but don’t know where to start, this post is for you!
How to Become a Travel Writer and Get Paid to Explore the World – This interview has proven to be one of my most popular yet! It turns out travel writing is still a career that’s highly coveted, and Steph shared some really wonderful, actionable advice in this post.
My Best Instagrams
A Few Things I’m Loving
ConvertKit’s free ebook, The Complete Guide to Email Marketing – As I mentioned, I really plan to focus on building and nurturing my email list this year and I’m finding this free e-book to be a super valuable resource. I’ve always sort of half-assed my email marketing because it overwhelmed and intimidated me, but I’m finally determined to fine-tune my strategy and I can’t wait to see what I can achieve!
Smart Passive Income’s course building resources – I appreciate Pat Flynn’s approach to entrepreneurship SO MUCH because it’s real and honest, which is what I strive for as well. He has tried everything under the sun, learned his lessons the hard way, and is now passing that knowledge on to us. This section on building courses will be particularly helpful as I build my own Pinterest course this year.
PS – If you want more info about my upcoming Pinterest course, special pre-sale offers, and updates on the launch, be sure to join my mailing list!
That’s all for February…onward and upward!